IGF 2022 Day 1 Opening Ceremony – RAW

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> SHIMELESS LEMMA:  Welcome to IGF2022 Opening Ceremony.  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia


>> SHIMELES LEMMA: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister

His Excellency Dr. Abiy Ahmed Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the 17th IGF 2022 guest of honour.

  Mr. Junhua Li, Under Secretary of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNDESA.  Mr. Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Commission for Africa, UNECA.  Excellency, Ministers, State Ministers, Ambassadors, Commissioners, honorable national delegates, participants of the 17th IGF, both here on site and all of you joining online, honorable ladies and gentlemen, all protocols observed.

The 17th Internet Governance Forum, IGF 2022 Ethiopia is now in session in Addis Ababa for a grand Opening Ceremony by His Excellency Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed . Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for joining us here today for this mega forum of the world of the Internet.  Ladies and gentlemen, please give a big round of applause to His Excellency, the Prime Minister who is a great advocate of digital transformation and the world of cyber evolution in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is hugely proud to be the host of the 17th edition of the IGF and the third country on the African soil since its maiden launch in 2006.  This year's grand hybrid gathering is under way under the overarching theme, Resilient Internet for a Shared Sustainable and Common Future happening here in Addis Ababa, the diplomatic seat of the African content from the 28th of November to the 2nd of December, 2022.  To our international delegates a warm welcome to the vibrant Addis Ababa.  Ladies and gentlemen, give them a big welcoming applause to our international delegates.

This global multi‑stakeholder platform is a historic event for the host nation of over 120 million people, most of whom are young men and women.  Ethiopia as a country has demonstrated its commitment to the same goal by developing its own national digital strategy known as Digital Ethiopia 2025 with a motto digital strategy for inclusive prosperity of Ethiopia

Ethiopia also has enormous stakes in pertinent areas such as liberalizing telecom sector and drafting a data privacy policy soon to be approved by the supreme legislative body, just to mention a few.

Your Excellency the Prime Minister, the 17th annual IGF is being hosted in a fully hybrid format with the aim of accommodating the participation of stakeholders present on site in Addis Ababa or participating online in an equitable manner.  This year's IGF is under way on a unique digital platform where meeting discussions are taking place in an equal manner for all participants regardless of whether they connect from the venue or any other part of the world.

The program of the forum has been developed around five themes, connecting all people and safeguarding human rights, avoiding Internet fragmentation, governing data, protecting privacy, enabling safety, security and accountability, and addressing advanced technologies including AI.

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, welcome to the 17th meeting of the IGF.  And it's now my pleasure to give the floor to Mr. Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary of UNECA, to give a welcoming address.

>> ANTONIO PEDRO: Your Excellency Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Honorable Ministers, Your Excellency Junhua Li, UN Under Secretary‑General for Economic and Social Affairs.  Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour hosting you at United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa.  You are warmly welcome.  Let me begin by extending appreciation to His Excellence Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the people of Ethiopia for hosting this event on African soil for the second time in the history of the IGF.

I wish to also convey my sincere gratitude to the IGF Secretariat for making the UN IGF in Ethiopia a reality.  Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it has been a year since we last have gathered in this forum in Katowice in Poland, and the world has continued to face dramatic changes since that time.  The compounding effects of the most recent global crisis of climate change, of COVID‑19 pandemic, and the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine has made certain that the world will see even more challenges in the future regarding increased foresight capabilities driven by and facilitating further digital transformation.

This year's forum under the overarching theme of a resilient Internet for shared sustainable and common future will focus many of its discussions on the critical challenge of binding the digital divide on multiple fronts in terms of connectivity, affordability and relevant content.

It presents a vital opportunity to discuss accelerators for digital transformation and bridging the digital divide through coordinated action and advocacy.  In this regard, we must not forget where this forum is taking place.  On the African continent only one in three people has access to the Internet.

This means that an estimated 871 million people are not connected.  Access to the Internet becomes even more limited when you have, when you move from the urban to the rural areas.  In addition, the usage gap is also becoming a pressing concern for Africa.  Though 70% of Africa's population technically has access to mobile Internet, less than 25% are making use of this service, resulting in an up take gap of almost 50%.

One key reason for this has been the high cost of mobile Internet across the region, which automatically caps off those in the low income earning margin.  The lack of digital illiteracy skills is a key barrier to achieving digital inclusion.  The skill gaps have been further exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic with the expansion of online education, E‑healthcare, E‑commerce, and remote work have left a large portion of the population without Internet access even further behind.

The need for meaningful digital connectivity to sustainable development remains as true today as it ever has.  Nevertheless, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, while at the moment Africa lags in infrastructure in several key areas necessary for the development like universal access to electricity, mechanization of production and industry automation, significant progress is being achieved across the continent.  The increase in E‑commerce has created new jobs and income earning opportunities which have the potential to spur household income, lift people out of poverty, and increase resilience of rural communities.  In Ghana, for instance, a business‑to‑business E‑commerce program for Agri centre connects 10,000 farmers with buyers allowing farmers to secure a higher price for their production.

A setup in Guinea is providing digital healthcare to rural Guinea, and Kenya has introduced coding classes for school going children.  The Africa platform with 50,000 data scientists is a notable example of how we are finding innovative solution to Africa's problems.  The platform connects data scientists with various organisations and facilitates learning and job placement for young people.

Countries are working to create enabling policy environments with Nigeria signing the Startup Act 2022 in October of this year, providing companies with a five‑year tax break joining Senegal and Tunisia who have startup low frameworks in place.

E‑government is also taking root, helping to democratize access to social services and fostering social inclusion.  In Rwanda, the online services platform Irembo is allowing users to access, apply and pay for Government services.  To date, Irembo has served over 11 million citizens in Rwanda and offers over 105 services online ranging from civil status, health, education, land, travel, and transport services.

Togo launched a  digital society assistance program, Novissi and additional cash transfer to assist informal workers whose livelihoods have been upended by the COVID‑19.  As of March 2022, Novissi has reached 9,970,000 beneficiaries and distributed $23.9 million.  And here in Ethiopia, incredible work is being done in the deployment of innovative capabilities in robotics, machine learning, big data management, local languages processing, and computer visioning through the Ethiopian AI Institute ensuring that Artificial Intelligence supports socioeconomic programmes such as health, education, agriculture and decision making process on urban administration, land administration, national disaster prevention and environmental hazards.

These examples are evidence that the Africa digital landscape is changing.  Now is the time to double down our efforts to close the digital infrastructure gap and to leverage digital technologies to power key initiatives in support of achieving a greener and more inclusive digital world and a just and sustained development for all.  To this end, the continental Free Trade Agreement would certainly benefit from digital transformation, enabling E‑commerce, reducing information asymmetries, improving efficiency and supply chain management to name a few.  Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the theme of this year's IGF and the five themes resonate well with the work of ECA.

Over recent years, the Economic Commission for Africa has been implementing and promoting various activities in supporting, connecting all people and safeguarding human rights including through organising coding such as the African Girls Coding Camp which has enabled more than 25,000 girls and young people aged between 12 and 25 from all over Africa to develop skills on critical domains for Africa development.  Avoiding Internet fragmentation by engaging in standard setting initiatives for an open and unfragmented Internet with various organisations such as the Policy and Digital Transformation Initiative under the African Union National Telecommunications Union and the African Initiative on Single Digital Market, governing data and protecting privacy through the development of the Africa Data Framework in February of 2022 providing the continent with the framework for the governance of that data enabling safety, security, and accountability recently through a partnership with the Government of Togo, to establish the African Centre of Coordination and Research in cybersecurity.  This is with a view to increasing the continent against cybersecurity attacks. 

We are launching a report on the Cybersecurity Guidelines Model Law at this IGF.  And lastly, ECA is working to address the deployment to advance technologies including AI to supporting the establishment of the first African Research Center for Artificial Intelligence under the university which was inaugurated in March 2022.

Ladies and gentlemen, Your Excellencies, the questions remain how do we work towards and realize a resilient and unfragmented Internet in our lifetime?  There is need for multi‑ sectoral approach that addresses these five priorities which in turn reinforces there accelerated by sustainable realization of SDGs and agenda of the African Union.  Let me leave you with what I see as key priorities moving forward.

First, building resilient digital infrastructure is critical for development.  Second, harmonizing regulations to remove barriers to connectivity is crucial.

Third, context specific and fit for purpose innovations are golden opportunities to create an ecosystem that enables public‑private interconnectivity and a working national infrastructure.

Fourth, the implementation of digital technology should progressively and continually mirror key principles of inclusion, representation, and accessibility.

Fifth, private sector involvement is key to spurring digital development.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention and I wish you a successful and productive Conference.  Thank you.

>> SHIMELES LEMMA: Thank you very much, Mr. Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa for welcoming us to this the facility here in Addis Ababa.

I would now like to give the floor to Mr. Junhua Li, Under Secretary‑General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to say a few words and introduce the video message by the United Nations Secretary‑General Mr. Antonio Guterres.  The floor is yours, sir.

>> LI JUNHUA: Thank you, Your Excellency Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, my dear colleague, Mr. Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretariat of the Economic Commission for Africa, Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the UN Secretary‑General Mr. Antonio Guterres, I warmly welcome you to the official opening of the 17th annual meeting of the Internet Governance forum.

I have the honour to invite the Secretary‑General to deliver his video message.

>> ANTONIO GUTERRES: We often hear that the future will be digital, but the future of digital must be human centred.  That ambition is reflected in your theme, building a resilient Internet for a shared sustainable and common future.  It is also the motivation behind my proposed Global Digital Compact on an open, free, inclusive and secure digital future for all.

We are aiming for this compact to be agreed by Governments at the 2024 Summit of the future with inputs from technology companies, civil society, academia and others.  The compact firmly anchored in human rights aims to deliver in three areas.  First, universal connectivity.  Closing the digital divide and reaching the 3 billion people offline, the majority of whom live in the Global South.

Second, a safe, secure, and even centered digital space begins with free speech, freedom of expression and the right to online autonomy and privacy.  But it does not end there.  Governments, technical tech companies and social media platforms have the response to prevent online bullying that under mines democracy, human rights and science.

Third, the digital compact should focus on ways in which Governments working with technology companies and others can foster the safe and responsible use of data.  We are seeing the growing use and abuse of data.  Our data is being used to shape perceptions without our even realizing it.

Governments can exploit the data to control the behavior of their own citizens, violating human rights of individuals and groups.  We need to keep working for a safe, equitable and open future that does not infringe on privacy or dignity.  I urge the IGF and its leadership panel to help carry all of these issues forward, bringing together Governments, the private sector, civil society, and more through concrete actions for a safe, sustainable, and inclusive digital future.  Thank you.

>> LI JUNHUA: Thank you.

I join the Secretary‑General in extending sincere thanks to our host, the Government of Ethiopia for bringing this important meeting back to its origin.  My deep gratitude goes to my colleagues in the Economic Commission for Africa for their outstanding support.  Indeed, Internet Governance Forum received its mandate through the second phase of the World Summit to honour Information Society held in Tunis in 2005.  The Internet Governance Forum was again held in Africa more than ten years ago in Nairobi in 2011, yet Africa is the least connected region where 60% of the population are offline, representing a majority of the 2.7 billion people who are offline globally.

This is a dark contrast with the developed regions such as Europe be the most connected region with 89% of its population enjoying the access to the Internet.  This places African countries and people at a great societal disadvantage and risks them being left farther behind.

The vital role of Internet in building Africa's sustainable future cannot be overstated.  It is my hope that the IGF will help accelerate Africa's transition to digital future.  The Internet is a springboard for us to rescue the SDGs through the digital empowerment.  Digital technologies and the Internet are serving as engines of the growth and providers of the essential services, including support to the E‑government and growing digital economies.

Powered by the Internet, digital jobs and E‑commerce are growing even through any crisis.  For an open, free, and secured digital future for all, we need a resilient Internet.  In this 17th IGF, our collective task here in Addis Ababa is to unleash the power and potential of the resilient Internet for our shared sustainable and common future.

Building a resilient and empowering Internet will mean addressing the dark side of our digital reality.  With some of the challenges by digital disruptions, the unconnected are left further behind caught in the vicious cycle of the inequality including intergenerational inequity.

At the same time, the connected are confronted daily with misinformation, disinformation and fake news, impacting how we live, how we work and how we interact with each other.  And the cyber-attacks and data fraud are more rampant than ever, spam, hacking, phishing, denial of service attacks, invasion of the privacy, violation of the digital property rights, and the list goes on.

Collectively we must step up to deliver a digital future, and address these failings.  We must ensure that the promise of the technologies is not clouded by misuse and abuse.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is where the Internet Governance Forum delivers as a convener and a connector.

Global Internet Governance is complex.  No single person or institution can fully grasp its complexity or deliver a perfect solution.  Joining us at this hybrid meeting on site or online are leaders, experts and stakeholders representing governance, international intergovernmental organisations, civil society, academia, technical communities and business engaged in over 300 different sessions in this entire week.

I believe it will be insightful and refreshing exchanges from connecting all people to safeguarding human rights, from avoiding Internet fragmentation to governing data and protecting privacy, and enabling safety, security, and accountability, and addressing advanced technologies, let us spare no efforts in highlighting the promises of the digital space.  The inclusive multistakeholder approach of the IGF creates a level playing field for sharing policy solutions, best practices and experiences for identifying the emerging issues and bringing it to the attention of the relevant bodies and their public.

We must leverage the IGF to land the types of concrete outcomes we want to see at all levels, whether it be in improving global norms and standards or informing national level regulations.  Dear colleagues, I look forward to being part of the main important exchanges in the days ahead.  The digital frontier is where the truly transformational power will be realized and the important space for accelerating progress towards the SDGs.

The United Nations is fully committed to work with all of you for an open, free, secure, and resilient Internet for all.  I thank you.


>> SHIMELES LEMMA: Thank you very much, Mr. Junhua Li, Under Secretary‑General of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs.  Thank you so very much.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I now have the great honour and unique privilege to give the floor to His Excellency, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the guest of honour.


>> ABIY AHMED: Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Your Excellency, Mr. Junhua Li, Under Secretary of United Nations, Honorable Ministers, heads of intergovernmental organisations, distinguished members of the private sector, the technical community, civil society, and academia.

Ladies and gentlemen.  A warm welcome to our beautiful city and Africa's vibrant diplomatic capital Addis Ababa.  As you deliberate in upcoming days on the theme of resilient Internet for a shared, sustainable and common future, what better place to reflect on a common future than in the land of origins where humanity as we know it all began.

So it has been eleven years since the IGF was held on the African continent.  Ethiopia is the host of the 2022 IGF and is honored to welcome this global and diverse audience for a taste of our history, culture, diversity and ongoing transformation.

Excellencies, the advent of the Internet has no doubt revolutionized our global societies, economics and politics.  We currently find ourselves in a rapidly changing world order with the Internet impacting developments and vice versa.

The dynamism of our global community and the latest socioeconomic and political shifts warrant gatherings such as the IGF.  They will help us to cocreate a shared understanding on the use and governance of the internet.  In a highly globalized context and with the hopes of closing the digital divide, most if not all African nations have been leapfrogging in the realm.  While there are many advantages to this, undoubtedly plenty of challenges confront and await us as a continent with the dark side of the Internet requiring policies and practice safeguards to be in place.

For Ethiopia, the past four years have been full of challenge and opportunities.    For example, the Internet has supported the speed of disinformation on Ethiopia in the northern part of the country.  On the other hand, while the COVID‑19 pandemic hit, it offered the opportunity to conduct some Government activities and businesses online allowing for creativity and the emergence of innovations.

As a developing country, we recognize that our aspirations and international journey to realizing a prosperous Ethiopia, a conducive and inclusive for all is intimately tied to advancement in technology.  The Internet thus provides a means of securing our ambitious targets as laid out in a national ten‑year perspective plan.  At a time where we are emerging from economic effects of global pandemic, conflict, vulnerabilities due to climate change, our economy is the third largest in Sub‑Saharan Africa.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to achieving full sovereignty, increasing industrialization, boosting tourism, maximizing gains from our sector, and promoting a green and climate conscious culture.  All of this are being supported through mainstreaming ICT of which the Internet is key.

Excellencies, Ethiopia's ICT and digital transformation journey has been marked by key progress milestones aligned with the five sub themes of the 17th IGF.  Considering our large and growing population, improving connectivity and expanding accessibility has been a priority with investments being made in infrastructure expansion opening up the telecom sector to private investors and building Government data infrastructure.

Internet Governance shows an increase from 19 million users in 2017 to 13 million in 2022 rolling out 4G in populated towns and 5G network in major cities accelerating connectivity.  Over 2300 high schools throughout the country have Internet access.  Four years ago we adopts a national digital strategy which lays out a unified vision for Ethiopia's progress to an inclusive digital economy.  The strategy focuses on developing infrastructure, enabling systems, digital platforms and building the digital ecosystem.

In efforts to enabling safety, security, and accountability, the governance has taken various measures to strengthen national cybersecurity institutions besides protecting the cyberspace of the country, these institutions are working on raising citizen awareness on related matters.

The Ethiopian Government recognizes the benefit of Artificial Intelligence and has committed to use the new technology for national development intervals.  We have established an institution dedicated to AI‑related research and development activities in the country.  We also established an AI institute dedicated to work on Ethiopia's national interest and competitiveness through the development of AI services, products, and solutions.

The institute is currently working in various sectors including health, education, agriculture, transport, as well as on public protection and safety.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Internet's contribution to social development is immense.  The democratization of knowledge and communication, access to skills and new employment opportunities, healthcare access and education are a few noteworthy ones.

However today the principle of neutrality of the Internet is questioned.  Giant platforms control the content that users can access.  They control their personal data, and with the power of Artificial Intelligence, they quickly cease to be gateways and rather become gate keepers.  In politics it has also allowed greater participation, but it has also paused political stability, sovereignty and technologic values of nations.

The Internet politics are the manipulation of information to frame ideas and behavior., the spreading of misinformation and rumors by individuals protected by anonymity has become a common practice.

Excellencies, our rapidly evolving global landscape is allowing us to produce massive amounts of data, but cautious optimism is required and mainly around ownership of critical infrastructure, data strategy, and data governance and cybersecurity.  Countering imbalance in ownership of submarine cables and fiberoptic networks and data centers as well as international data traffic routes, particularly for Africa are dependencies that risk jeopardizing the state autonomy.

We need to have data strategies to strengthen privacy standards, we need to prevent feeding the AI, industrial development and surveillance capacity of third parties.  Data governance should also aim at harmonizing rules in the digital ecosystem to spur economic growth while protecting individual rights.  African countries should be able to influence standards in a way that it corresponds with our values and enables us to participate in innovative, emerging technologies.

This is why the focus should be on building trust, equity, and security in cyberspace.  The IGF was created to pave the way for discussions on issues that would ensure sustainability, security, stability and development of the Internet.

I would like to call upon this forum whose quality of discussions and debates are renowned to produce more than just reflections.  We need to see tangible, pragmatic and implementable proposals to ensure we create the resilient, safe, and inclusive global community we all want.

I commit to review the deliberation of this forum and wish you all a successful 17th edition of the United Nations IGF.  Have a pleasant stay in Ethiopia, and I encourage you to visit our new science museum among the many new splendors of our vibrant city Addis Ababa.  I thank you.


>> SHIMELES LEMMA: Thank you very much, Your Excellency Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and guest of honour.  Ladies and gentlemen, now, His Excellency, the Prime Minister will be joined by Mr. Junhua Li and Mr. Antonio Pedro for a group picture before His Excellency the Prime Minister leaves us.




ladies and gentlemen, His Excellency the Prime Minister as I said earlier is an ardent advocate of digital transformation and cyberspace especially for a developing country like his own and close to his heart so I think he deserves huge congratulation as he brings home this huge global gathering to Addis Ababa for days of important deliberations in this case.  Would you please sit down, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you very much.

Ladies and gentlemen, so the 17th edition of IGF 2022 Ethiopia has officially been open and launched by His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.  We will now proceed to the remaining program and I will leave the floor to the gentleman who you see at the podium to take over.  Thank you very much.  Have a wonderful time here.

>> CHENGETAI MASANGO: Hello.  Thank you very much.  First of all, I would like to ask the Opening Session speakers to please come and sit in front.  I think we are missing two of them just by your name plate.  Thank you very much.  I would like to thank the hosts.  I think this is one of the most efficient Opening Ceremonies.  We started before time and we finished before time as well.

I mean, it has never happened before.  We usually are late, so this is really great.  So we are about to start the Opening Session where we are going to have speeches by some of our stakeholders, so if you could please take your seats and let me see if I see everybody.  Yes.  And not to be outdone by our host, I think we will just start, if you could take your seats, please.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Opening Session of IGF 2022, our 17th IGF.  Without much further ado, let me call on our first speaker, Ms. Doreen Bogdan‑Martin, the ITU's Secretary‑General‑Elect.  Please.

>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Okay.  I think that's better.  Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it's exciting to be back in Africa, the continent where the IGF was born, and where the potential of digital transformation to drive growth and prosperity is nowhere greater.

Thinking about the many challenges that face us today, I was reminded about the words of the former UN Secretary‑General at the first World Summit on the Information Society.  He reminded each and every one of us that we have an active role to play in the digital transformation that's reshaping our world.

Technology has produced the information age, Kofi Atta Annan said, now, it's up to all of us, all of us to build an Information Society.  This year's IGF comes at a watershed moment for Governments searching for ways to connect their citizens, for the tech sector currently experiencing its own forms of disruption, and for the UN system as it prepares to negotiate a global agreement setting out a shared vision of what digital needs to deliver for we, the peoples.

The Global Digital Compact envisages an open, free, inclusive and secure digital future for all.  That's a bold vision.  It's a bold vision in a world where one third of humanity has never ever connected to the Internet.  And it's a bold vision in a world where risks associated with digital technologies are multiplying, and they require global collaborative solutions.

Yes, it's an ambitious vision, but it's a vision that we absolutely need to embrace.  We need to embrace it as a global community because not to do so would mean squandering, squashing the greatest opportunity that humanity has ever had to create a fair, more prosperous and inclusive world for all.

Digital technology is a uniquely powerful enabler.  Through digital, we can put the life‑changing power of education in the hands of all.  We can empower the socially and economically disadvantaged.  We can ensure that everyone everywhere has access to healthcare.  We can turbo charge human knowledge through collaboration in science, engineering, agriculture, and more.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's clear that we will never attain the SDGs, those 17 SDGs without the power of ICTs.  And so as we approach the 2030 target, let me ask you, how will future generations judge us if we fail to use the tools that are so readily available to build a better future for all?

Last year at this Conference, I urged us to embrace the theme of Internet united, and to think about our digital future as one community.  The recent ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in the same vein urged us to connect and unite.  This is what the Global Digital Compact aspires to do.

With its global reach and mandate, the United Nations is the right place to come together and to forge a shared vision for our digital future.  And as the UN agency for digital technologies, ITU with its unique membership of Governments, the private sector, civil society, can mobilize the broader digital community and help to bring all voices to the table.

Our collaborative culture and the relationships that we have established are all resources that the UN family can draw upon to deliver universal, affordable, meaningful and resilient connectivity for all.  And, of course, a durable Global Digital Compact that delivers on this vision.

Ladies and gentlemen, how many of you were present at the WSIS, at the Tunis phase of the WSIS.  I see at least one of them right here, Vint Cerf, others?  I was.  One in the back.  My friend from Turkiye as well, and I know many others, I think, that are following online were also there.

It was there that at least I remember the spirit of optimism that was demonstrated, the international goodwill that really characterized the Summit.  And, of course, now 20 years later, we find ourselves at another inflection point.  The networks and services that we shaped collectively through digital cooperation are now in turn reshaping our world.

We have a duty to future generations to guide that evolution, and to ensure that the outcomes are beneficial and not destructive so that people are empowered by the positive potential of technology rather than cowered by its dark side.  Let me close by returning once again to the words of Kofi Annan, while technology shapes the future, he said, it is people, it is people who shape technology and decide what it can and what it should be used for.  We, the international community, have an opportunity and we have an obligation to work together to forge a digital future where access to fast, safe, inclusive and affordable Internet is a given, and not a privilege.

I look forward to taking this journey with all of you.  Thank you so much.


>> CHENGETAI MASANGO: Thank you very much ITU Secretary‑General‑Elect.  I won't move the mic.  Now, I would like to call upon Mr. Tawfik Jelassi, Assistant Director General for communication and information UNESCO.  Thank you.

>> TAWFIK JELASSI: Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, let me first start answering Doreen Bogdan‑Martin's question.  Yes, I was at the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society.  And as we all know, Tunisia hosted that year the World Summit on the Information Society which was the birth place of the IGF.  So I come from North Africa, and I'm delighted being here in Sub‑Saharan Africa in Ethiopia as the representative of the UNESCO Director General at this important event.

UNESCO has been very much involved in the IGF since its start.  UNESCO has even hosted the 2018 edition of the IGF at its Paris headquarters.  We continue our work with the IGF stakeholders including through our Internet universality indicators and the UNESCO ROAM‑X framework.  For those of you who are not familiar, let me define the four key letters in ROAM, R standing for human rights, O for open, A for accessible, and M for multistakeholder approach to digital development and to Internet usage.

We recognize that the Internet and digital technologies are the backbone of digital transformation, a topic that His Excellency the Prime Minister emphasized in his opening remarks.  But there is no successful digital transformation.  It's not anchored in human rights and other key humanistic values, a message that Doreen emphasized in her opening remarks.

So there are three key questions in this digital transformation journey that I think we should all answer, why to transform, what to transform, and how to transform.  I think the case for change, the why, is quite obvious to all of us, but what is not as easy to answer is what are the boundaries of digital transformation and how to execute, how to implement, how to deploy.

Again, our ROAM‑X approach which is cross cutting in terms of topics including gender equality, including climate change, and the 303 indicators that we have developed to conduct a national assessment of digital readiness, we are delighted to say that so far 44 countries have used the UNESCO ROAM framework and Internet universality indicators, 17 of which are African nations.  Actually it was just last week that Ethiopia released its report on the National Digital Assessment through the UNESCO framework and indicators.

We live in an era where digital platforms are becoming dominant.  We know in many countries, the youth are spending more than a couple of hours per day connecting to digital platforms.  We know in some countries, the primary source of news for 80% of the population is digital or social media platform. 

The Prime Minister mentioned some of the key public hazards in that disinformation, misinformation, hate speech online, conspiracy theories, cyber bullying, online harassment of professionals.  That is not the resilient, open accessible Internet we all want.  We don't want to the Internet to become a place for public hazard.  We don't want the Internet to become a place for public harm.

We want an Internet where information is ensured to be a public common good.  How can we go about that?  I am pleased to announce UNESCO is organising next February a Global Conference on Regulating Digital Platforms to ensure information is a public good while safeguarding freedom of expression online.

When I say regulating digital platforms, I do not, I don't mean censoring digital platforms.  That's why I added how to regulate digital platforms to ensure information is public good, and not a public hazard while safeguarding freedom of speech.

We have been preparing for this major Conference in an inclusive, multistakeholder approach involving the 193 Member States of UNESCO, civil society, academia, research institutions, but also very important stakeholder the technology companies and digital platform operators without which our declaration will remain just a paper edifice.  It is the technology companies and digital platform companies that have to abide by the global regulatory principles that will be the outcome of this conference.

Of course, we don't mean to be a substitute to a national regulatory bodies, but we want to come up with a global model for regulation of digital platforms accepted by all stakeholders involved.  Let me just conclude by saying UNESCO will continue to work closely with other members of the UN family, with different stakeholders, be it civil society, academia, private sector, research institutions.  We are pleased to continue the discussions regarding the World Summit on the Information Society plus 20 review.  The future of the IGF, and hopefully to contribute to the Global Digital Compact but also to the UN Summit for the Future of September 2024.

Let me here quote in closing the UN Secretary‑General Antonio Guterres who said there are two key challenges that we are facing in the 21st century, climate change and digital transformation.  Certainly we can hopefully contribute to the solutions or sustainable solutions for both key challenges.  I wish you a fruitful figure.

Thank you.


>> CHENGETAI MASANGO: Thank you very much, Assistant Director General.  Our next speaker representing our IGF youth speakers will be Ms. Lily Botsyoe.

>> LILY BOTSYOE: Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Lily Edinan Botsyoe, and I coordinate the Ghana Youth IGF.  Today I represent the youth and youth voices across the world, a group that is by far the largest users of the Internet and actively contributing to building its core.

I can see a couple of young people around and if you are youth or youth at heart, you can give a wave.  I can see a couple of us.  That is pretty cool!  So I especially want to commend the IGF Secretariat effort led by Anja Gengo and staunch involvement of several young people and youth groups across the world for this year's IGF Youth Track, and the work that has been put in the process to organize sessions across the globe and in EuroDIG, in African IGF, in the Asia‑Pacific region and also in the Latin American region.

This year was all inclusive and had many people being represented, and we are super proud of what you have been able to achieve.  Our discussions have focused on opportunities for data transformation, challenges and steps to achieve better data future.  Due to dynamics of our youth engagement gradually changing, many young people in rural areas and remote communities are not included in the debate around Internet Governance and generally in technology policy space.  Many are constrained by poverty, unemployment, and other social and economic marginalization.

Additionally, data rates are constantly increasing.  There are multiple challenges preventing youth from fully benefiting from data transformation, and notable among these are the cost of connectivity, Internet shutdowns and then digital illiteracy.  The changes we seek can be attained by rethinking ideas like youth and newbies or inexperienced and probably only benefit from capacity building sessions, and we have to move this from shift in seeing young people and recognizing us for the participation we bring on board and creation of space for us to have discussions around issues that matter to us and where our particular needs are met.

Again, considering the possibility of decentralized funding and supporting models from the private sector and other organisations may be the future of meaningful participation for youth in Internet Governance.  We have a report that we shared at the closing and also made available for action rated points that have come from the discussions we have had over the weeks and months building up to this Conference.

The future of a secure, robust, and open Internet is inherently a matter of youth who are the forefront developing its core.  We are poised to bring mutual understanding between stakeholders in the Internet community in order to make better policies towards building an Internet for all young people are ready to get involved.  Thank you.


>> CHENGETAI MASANGO: Thank you very much, Lily.  Our next speaker does not need any introduction.  I would like to call Mr. Vint Cerf, Chair of the IGF Leadership Panel and also one of the fathers of the Internet.

>> VINT CERF: Thank you very much.  You know, when people clap before you have said anything, it probably is a good time to just sit down, because it won't get any better than that.  I really appreciated Lily's remarks.  Oh, to be young again!

Distinguished Excellencies in attendance and remotely, I join my fellow speakers in gratitude for the generosity of our host, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and equally great appreciation for Chengetai and his IGF Secretariat, and the Multistakeholder Advisory Group chaired by Paul Mitchell for the 17th annual IGF.

The leadership panel acknowledges the charge from the UN Secretary‑General Antonio Guterres to engage productively with the MAG, the participants of the annual IGF, and with the participants of National and Regional IGFs.  Our aim is to amplify and facilitate the exposure of IGF outputs to other bodies relevant to the health and function of the Internet and the ecosystem which it has created.

The challenge before us is to realize the demonstrated and potential benefits of the Internet now that we know that it can be both a productive environment and one in which material harms can be perpetrated.  The world is looking at the IGF, its Leadership Panel, it's MAG and the IGF participants to throw light in dark corners and highlight paths to successful use of the Internet for all of the worlds and the countries in which they live.

We now know that among other important properties, accountability and agency are primary in the Internet Ecosystem.  Our job is to articulate what are the desirable properties of that system.  Safety, security, privacy, utility, accessibility in both senses of the word, affordability, resilience, operational sustainability, adaptability and many more that I'm sure you can add.

You will hear those words repeatedly in this Conference and you already have heard them several times this afternoon.  Since the first World Summit on the Information Society, we have collectively admired the Internet's problems and its beneficial possibilities and we have described them in some detail.

It's time to start taking concrete steps to realize the system that we collectively want.  To that end in support of others working on digital cooperation in the Global Digital Compact such as the UN Secretary‑General's tech envoy, the Leadership Panel is committed to offering concrete examples of actions that can lead to improvement in today's Internet and more generally the digital environment.

I hope that the world of 2045 will look back at the work we have undertaken and be grateful for the work we do this week and in the years ahead.  Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work!  Thank you.


>> CHENGETAI MASANGO: Thank you very much, Vint.  Our next speaker is Under Secretary‑General Mr. Amandeep Singh Gill who is the Secretary‑General Envoy on Technology.

>> AMANDEEP SINGH GILL: Well, Vint told us to roll up our sleeves and get to work, and what am I doing here?  Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure to be here in Addis in this beautiful city, and it is a delight to see the IGF come back home to Africa.  Tunis is where it all started and Doreen started us down the memory lane, and it's great that IGF is now coming back to Africa, and it's also great to see the growth of this community.  Many more Regional IGFs, many more national IGFs, so it's truly becoming a community that's built from the bottom up.

It's also great to see its multistakeholder character come alive in all of the sessions, all of the different discussions that take place, in the deliberations of the MAG, the Multi‑stakeholder Advisory Group, and in the newly constituted IGF Leadership Panel which Vint Cerf and Maria Ressa are Co‑Chairing.  A lot has been achieved in 17 years.

A lot more needs to be done.  When the Secretary‑General started a reflection on digital cooperation in 2018, one of the key areas of focus was how do we reinforce the governance of digital technologies, not just the Internet itself, but the digital world at large.

In the years since, the importance of the digital transformation has been universally recognized.  Today each and every UN agency has digital transformation and related issues as one of its top priorities.  That's good to see.  But I think we need to work harder on and improve on how we govern these technologies.

The IGF itself needs to up its game.  That's the reason why in the Secretary‑General's High‑Level Panel on Digital Cooperation there was a focus on the IGF plus governance approach.  And the Leadership Panel which has had its first meetings these past 24 hours has its task cut out.  You all have your task cut out to make sure that this community, this vibrant community which has achieved so much is fit for purpose for the coming years.

  The challenges are many.  The speakers before me have described some of those challenges and in Africa in particular, there are three important priorities.  One is simply connecting the unconnected.  It's the hard work of building the physical infrastructure for digital connectivity.  It's the hard work of bringing down costs of data.

It's the hard work of building digital literacy, building content in local languages, building local data sets, and then that's not going to be enough.  There will be a need to focus on another priority which is the guardrails, the common rails that need to be there for inclusive participation in the digital economy.

Today digital public infrastructures, digital public goods are part of our vocabulary, but there are very few countries who have realized the power of digital public infrastructure, and we need to take that message to many, many more countries, how do we lower the entry barriers for participation in the digital economy, whether it is small startups or an informal business that needs to do payments online, there are many, many areas of economic activity that can be facilitated through the wise use of digital public infrastructure, digital public goods in the form of these guardrails and common rails.

The third priority area for Africa and perhaps for most countries across the globe is big data ecosystem.  I hesitate to add Artificial Intelligence.  It has become such a "Buzz" word, but I think that will not happen if you don't have the data foundations.  So which means data science capacity, human resource around data, especially human resource at the junction of digital and other domains, agriculture and food security, health, the green transition mentioned as one of the two great transitions currently under way, the energy transition addressing energy poverty in Africa, building smart grids of the future.

So in those areas we need to build the capacity, human capacity.  We also need to build the data sets for the future.  This is not a rich country problem.  This is not a big tech problem, it is everyone's challenge.  We need to make sure that Africa doesn't lag behind on the data and AI race.  So we have to run these three races at the same time.

And I'm sure you will be up to the task and this forum, this community will support through knowledge exchange, through guidelines on policy approaches, through capacity development these three priority areas.  Finally, to conclude, I want to spend a few moments reflecting on the Global Digital Compact.  The Secretary‑General in his message to the Conference has underlined why we need to reflect on an open, free, secure and inclusive digital future for all.

There are a number of reasons related to misuse, related to the abuse that we see online.  My colleague from UNESCO mentioned all of the challenges that we have there.  But there is also the problem of missed opportunities.  The SDGs agenda, agenda 2030 has had a set back because of the COVID pandemic, the effects of other shocks, geopolitical shocks, economic shocks and we will not be able to catch up if we don't leverage additional opportunity, but the question is how do we actually do that?

So the Global Digital Compact is an opportunity for us to harness that opportunity, to also address the misuse, the risk associated with these technologies, particularly when we are on the cusp of moving to the next generation of intelligent networks, the Internet of Things, quantum computing, neural implants and many, many other technologies which are founded in digital, but which are stretching beyond our current policy and governance frameworks.

This process leading up to the Global Digital Compact in 2024 will be a multistakeholder process.  Member States, of course, have the lead.  They will have to negotiate this document, but all of you, the multistakeholder communities from academia, from the private sector, from the tech sector, from civil society have a role to play not only in bringing more nuance, more urgency, and more factfulness to these policy discussion but in ensuring that once the compact is adopted it's taken forward, its implemented, it's guidance is landed in the practice of not only Governments but also the private sector, civil society, academia, and the technology networks.

It's a huge task, and we have made a good beginning.  This forum has five items on its agenda, and those five items are closely aligned with the teams that the Global Digital Compact is likely to address.

So the outcome of your deliberations would be a crucial, crucial input into that process going into the Summit of the Future in 2024.  I wish you all of the very best for your deliberations.  Thank you very much.


>> CHENGETAI MASANGO: Thank you very much Under Secretary‑General Amandeep Singh Gill and we look forward to submitting the outputs of this IGF into the Global Digital Compact process.

Our second last speaker is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, Mr. Goran Marby.

>> GORAN MARBY: Hello, everybody.  It's a problem to be one of the last distinguished speakers not being that distinguished.

So don't worry, the only thing I'm going to do is roll up my sleeves.  I always do.  When I was preparing this speech we were in a IGF panel in Geneva, and at the panel everybody suddenly talked about Internet as a bad thing.  It was all about fake news, the problems on the Internet, et cetera, et cetera.

I remember looking at each other saying, this is not the Internet I know.  So I will try to give you a little bit more of a positive picture, but I also represent the technical community so I'm going to be nerdy.  Hello and welcome to the Internet.  Welcome to this room and welcome here.  I'm really happy to be here.

This is one of my favorite places to be.  ICANN has been a supporting of the IGF since the start.  We think this is an important place for people, stakeholders, Government, civil society, just people coming together and talk to each other.  It's not, I say this and especially coming to Africa I learned to much which all of the things happening here help and benefits me in my organisation.  We shouldn't forget the power of the Internet comes from being one single interoperable global resource that is accessed globally and local at the same time.

It brought us closer because it was borderless and owned by no one and yet controlled by everyone.  The Internet is a network of networks that relies on a common set of technical protocols and standards that allows networks to communicate with each other allowing us to interact.  These technical rules essentially ensure interoperability which is a crucial expressive technology to ensure that its available to everybody everywhere from a technical perspective.

Every time you go online, you hit about something that come from ICANN and our technical partners.  We do that for free.  We do that for you.  And how do we define the Internet?  The Internet is used.  We have many different words to call the Internet, so I'm from the technical community, so I will make it simple.  What do you do when you go online is you use free of the DNA of the Internet, the protocol, the DNS, and the IP addresses.

If you don't use this, you are not on the Internet anymore.  Often when you think you are on the Internet, you might be ending up in someone's computer.  You actually lost the Internet and gone somewhere else.  The Internet is a system of trust.  And this trust comes from technical coordination governed by the multistakeholder model.

Funny enough it's voluntary for you to use those parts of the DNA.  You can actually choose to use something else.  The funny is 5 billion people have decided to use this technical DNA.  And as long as everybody uses this same technical protocols, there will be one single global Internet that knows no geographic borders whatsoever.

And there is no single group or Government or company that actually controls this.  We have seen attempts by Governments, we have seen attempts by companies, we have seen four good reasons or bad reasons, the road to hell is paved with good intention to take this over.  We have been able with the help of you to sustain the model we have, the core functioning of the Internet.

ICANN is a part of Internet Ecosystem and I have some of my friends here from the IGT, AIB and others who are part of the technical community and I humbly represent them.  We work closely together to give you the ability to the Internet and we have done that for a large part of 40 years.

You never hear the Internet went down, have you?  Your operator, your WiFi might be taken over by your son, but you never hear the fact that the Internet went down, that is because it's designed by some very smart people to make sure it doesn't go down.  What I understand is the last time we had a technical issue was 35 years ago.

Through the Internet, through the multistakeholder model we have been able to do this, and that's why I'm so happy to be here to have those discussions with other policy makers.  We are not done.

You might think that you go online and everybody works.  And I can bet you probably speak English.  80% of the content on the Internet are actually in English, less than 20% of all people in the world speaks English.  Our next big generational change of the Internet is to make Internet accessible regardless of which language, which culture which you come from, which key word you want to use that accessible to the Internet.  That's a big thing.

We invite especially Governments to help us in this effort as being a big buyer of IT which is very important to us.  And on that note, on Thursday we are proud to, and I hope you will join us, we are going to launch something we call The Coalition for Digital Africa where we will introduce more methods here in Africa to be able to support the more than 3,000 languages and scripts that exist only in Africa.

I also want to thank Doreen in her previous role as the Director of ITU‑D together a couple of months ago, six or seven months ago, maybe longer, we made an announcement that we are building the first or have built the first IMRS cluster which you don't know what it is, but I will tell you.

We did that in Kenya.  We officially launched it two weeks ago.  What we saw by us doing that investment, and we did that investment.  We didn't ask anyone for money to do that.  We saw that more of the Internet traffic now stays in Africa.  Why is that important?  It increases the speed of the Internet in Africa and at the same time increases resiliency and security of the system.  How do we know this?

This is where we meet.  I thank you very much for my time, and I rolled up my sleeves.  Thank you.


>> CHENGETAI MASANGO: Thank you very much, Mr. Marby. 

Our final speaker, but not least is Ms. Jamila Venturini, co‑Executive Director of Derechos Digitalis.  I hope I said that write.

>> JAMILA VENTURINI: Your Excellencies, dear delegates, dear colleagues, participants of this IGF, good morning.  My name is Jamila Venturini, I live and I am from Brazil, and today I'm here as representative of the Derechos Digitalis and Association for Progressive Communication.

For many of us this is the first edition of the IGF that we attend in person after the pandemic effects hit us all in different ways.  This IGF has the imprint of a reencounter to continue shaping the governance of the Internet to ensure it contributes to the common good to adjust equitable and sustainable digital future.

The 17th edition of the IGF takes place in a moment when the exacerbated effects of overlapping global crisis such as the weakening of democracy, wars, climate change, among others are felt strongly but differently in different contexts.  Extrapolated to the digital sphere, those crises have translated into the intensification of polarizing and stigmatizing narratives, the magnified pervasive and concentrated power of big corporations over the digital space, and the rising of new forms of digital and data colonialism and authoritarianism just to mention a few.

But what does this all mean for Internet Governance?  In my view, it means the following key things, first, all of these recent crisis are created or exacerbated by structure inequalities and power imbalances which we need to acknowledge as we develop discussions on Internet Governance.

Technologies have the potential to exacerbate such imbalances and inequalities, and this became evident during the pandemic.  When a small part of the global population could continue their activities safely and remotely, while another part continues to pay the price of being excluded.

But can technology also play a role in mitigating such inequalities?  The answer is yes.  And we have several examples of that.  However for them to be sustainable and become the norm, we need to deeply review our priorities and find ways to make the best possible uses of the existing international processes.  As power imbalances affect Internet Governance spaces as well, more proactive actions towards building effective, multistakeholder processes and increasing broader participation on all digital cooperation in governance discussions are urgently needed.

International organisations should set the example and include proactive measures to allow historically marginalized groups to have their voices heard and meaningfully considered.  This includes intergovernmental and standard setting and technical organisations, development agencies and banks among several others which should also build transparency and accountability mechanisms into their own processes and pressure national Governments and global tech companies in the same direction.

The IGF is a central piece of the Internet Governance ecosystem and key to improve the coordination in global Internet Governance and digital cooperation.  We look forward to the role that the IGF Leadership Panel can play to consolidate the IGF as a platform for identifying viable ways to shape, sustain and strengthen generally democratic governance progresses.

One second point I want to bring to my initial question on the relationship between the multiple crises that affects us and this IGF is that the Internet is embedded in people's lives and digitization impacts both connected and the unconnected.  The Internet should serve to promote empowerment and agency in groups in situations of marginalization, not the contrary, and they should be able to participate actively in the decisions affecting their futures.

For instance, the gaps in Internet access continues to be a critical challenge in Africa, and broadly throughout the Global South.  Greater effort can be placed in contextualizing connectivity in order for communities to fully benefit from it.  Expanding the telecommunications ecosystems to include locally driven community‑oriented solutions can help to drive appropriate content, local innovation and community ownership as well as economic change in many areas in Africa and elsewhere as several leaders and grassroots organisations present have already proved.

They should be part of any discussion on Internet Governance.  Women and LGBT+ groups should also be part of any discussion on these matters, and they have already played the key role in building a resilient and sustainable digital future.  Concrete measures should be taken to foster their participation in digital cooperation and governance conversations, and to protect their rights including to life and freedom of expression.  We are constantly under attack due to gender‑based political violence against the ones who occupy decision‑making spaces or to insist to raise their voices against injustices.

Finally, I cannot stand here without echoing civil society's call for the establishment of Internet access across the African region and beyond and the promotion of a free, open and secure Internet that allows us to fully exercise fundamental rights while we celebrate the existence of the IGF.  It is a result of significant civil society pressure.  We stress the need for it to play a leading role in fostering human rights, gender and environmental justice perspectives into digital cooperation and Internet Governance conversations towards the future that we want.  Thank you.


>> CHENGETAI MASANGO: Thank you very much Ms. Jamila Venturini.  I think that brings a close to our Opening Session.  With the Ethiopian calendar it is 2015, but it doesn't mean that they are behind times because we are ahead of time and will actually close for lunch early.

Just one reminder that we do have a daily bulletin, and there are some copies around, and you can also access it through our website for the daily bulletin.  Thank you all and thank you for attending.